By Kerry Booth | Photo by Jesse Borrell
“Life’s a rollercoaster, man.” To most people, this is an ineffectual witticism. To Armand (pronounced Ar-min) Casazza, it belies a difficult life stalwartly lived. The son of an alcoholic and a drug addict, Armand started off a challenging life in Illinois. When he was four, his father, an army veteran, took the family to California where Armand spent his formative years.
Troubles at home soon resulted in a seven-year stint in foster care, with Armand moving from one disaffected home to another. Finally aging out of the system, Armand used his time to take care of his ailing father, fighting the U.S. Army for the benefits his father deserved.
During this time, seizures affected Armand’s life radically, once striking while he was driving. The resulting accident left him with dozens of bones broken and months of physical rehabilitation. At the time of the accident, Armand had been doing landscaping work; because of the seizures, he lost his driver’s license, and his landscaping career ended. To this day, Armand contends with limbs that never quite healed correctly, as evidenced by the knee brace he wears on his left leg.
Leaving California, Armand found himself meeting up with friends as he traveled around the states. Short stops in Missouri and Montana were followed by a longer stay in Minnesota.
It was in Minnesota that Armand encountered a vengeful and recalcitrant landlord, who had him charged with threat of violence when he tried to hold her accountable for delayed repairs. Multiple legal battles ensued, increasing struggles that convinced Armand to relocate to Denver. Colorado was one of the places his family visited when he was a child, and the area always left a good impression on him.
Here in Denver, Armand has found chances to start anew. One week after moving to the city, Armand learned about the Denver VOICE from another vendor he met at an emergency men’s shelter. He promptly came to the office to sign up. Even in the midst of the opportunities Denver offers, however, Armand’s trials continue. One challenge is getting a new ID card, something everyone needs.
One of the people in Armand’s corner is a brother now living in California. Also an Army veteran like their father, Armand’s brother is now out of the military after serving abroad. He is also working toward a better future while dealing with complications from the past.
Armand intends to use other, non-governmental programs to better his life. After spending time in an emergency shelter and then camping near the Platte, he has finally found a more permanent place to stay. Someday, he hopes to own his own home, a place where he can care for his children.
Armand’s greeting/salutation is “God bless.” This isn’t said carelessly or superficially; he truly does wish the best for anyone he comes in contact with. When asked how he has faced—and overcome—so many challenges, Armand flashed that ever-present grin and said, “You do what you can do.” ■